Dragon to Pearl
Dragon to Pearl is a Middle Grade graphic novel family navigating land and sea. Wei and Jun have never met their father and with their Ma are embarking on a two-year journey across the South China Seas that will take them to Hong Kong, Macau, and finally the Philippines – the ‘Pearl of the Oriental Seas’.
When Communism gained a foothold in 1950s China, many stories of people leaving were shared between generations. Some families had to leave their children behind with relatives – some reuniting years later, while some never getting to do so. Adapted from Shirley’s grandmother and mom’s emigration a decade before the Chinese cultural revolution, Dragon to Pearl shares one of many similar journeys overseas undertaken by Chinese families.
Shirley is Chinese Canadian with a background in architecture practice and project management. She always drew and filled her free time with fun illustrations since growing up in Manila until emigrating during university. After her post grad, she began writing as an exercise to bring to life characters drawn over the years and to create her children’s literature portfolio. Various writing communities awarded scholarships for her writing development.
In 2018, Shirley drew a sketch as memento after her grandmother shared her story of giving birth in Macau. A year into the pandemic, this memento inspired a picture book manuscript. A scholarship from OC Arts Studio made this manuscript a graphic novel and later a 2022 Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) grant continued its development. A second grant from CCA will continue her professional growth in children’s literature.